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Administrative Core

The Administration Core supports SPORE projects and investigators by managing SPORE resources, communication and outreach, and by fostering the interaction among investigators, collaborators, other SPOREs, the patient and advocate community and the NCI. This management and support is accomplished through a series of oversight committees and organized administrative and scientific meetings of SPORE investigators, institutional representatives and external advisors. Specific functions of the Core include:

  1. To coordinate all GI SPORE cancer-related research
  2. To administer the Developmental Research Program (DRP)
  3. To administer the Career Development Program (CDP)
  4. To create and prepare documents and reports to ensure compliance with federal regulations and reporting requirements
  5. To monitor and manage financial resources
  6. To serve as the point of contact for GI SPORE investigators and patient advocates
  7. To organize and schedule GI SPORE project meetings for oversight, communication, administration, evaluation, collaboration, outreach and education
  8. To coordinate communications with other GI SPOREs, VU SPOREs, VICC, VUMC, Epithelial Biology Center (EBC), Ayers Institute, Digestive Diseases Research Center (DDRDC) and collaborators
  9. To organize annual External and Internal Advisory Board (EAB & IAB) meetings
  10. To organize along with the other Vanderbilt Lung and Breast SPORE administrative cores the quarterly VICC SPORE PI meetings
  11. To proactively identify academic (e.g., Meharry Medical College) and pharmaceutical (GE Global) interactions that will enhance the conduct of the GI SPORE program, taking special advantage of opportunities provided through Vanderbilt’s Clinical & Translational & Science Award (CTSA)


Translational Pathology and Imaging

The Translational Pathology and Imaging (TPI) Core, known as the Tissue Core in the previous funding periods, has played a central role in the translational research mission of this SPORE, providing essential support for all projects by providing annotated human biospecimens and research histology services. In the next funding period, services will be enhanced by adding a unique Preclinical Imaging SubCore that will provide in vivo imaging and molecular imaging probe development services under the direction of Dr. H. Charles Manning, Director of Molecular Imaging Research at Vanderbilt. The expansion of this Core to include imaging now provides GI SPORE investigators the opportunity to move nimbly from investigations utilizing noninvasive imaging and histology, often in tandem, in tractable preclinical model systems of GI cancer and patients with colorectal cancer. While the primary mission of the TPI core will continue to be state-of-the-art research pathology and biorepository services, the Imaging SubCore will offer a full range of small animal functional, anatomical and molecular imaging techniques, including magnetic resonance, computed tomography, ultrasound, fluorescence, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. To facilitate translation of research to patient care, GI SPORE investigators will also have access to novel probe development resources, including high-throughput, diversity-oriented synthesis capabilities suitable for identifying novel imaging compounds, as well as the resources of the VU Research Radiochemistry Core, also directed by Dr. Manning. These novel and established molecular imaging techniques are specifically tailored for assaying the molecular basis of gastrointestinal disease, including quantitative metrics of cellular metabolism and proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, receptor expression and inflammation. The TPI Core will continue to partner with other established tissue collection and immunohistochemistry shared resources and forge new connections with the Center for Small Animal Imaging within VUIIS to provide these services to the GI SPORE in a highly cost-effective manner.

Aim 1: To collect, process, bank and distribute human colorectal neoplasms, other GI neoplasms and matched normal tissue samples to investigators in the Vanderbilt GI SPORE and other qualified investigators using a process of informed consent that protects patient confidentiality

Aim 2: To work with the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core to establish an informatics strategy for networking of requests, specimen tracking, extraction of de-identified data relating to biospecimens and linkage to research data

Aim 3: To perform quality control to ensure that the relevant tissue is supplied and that tissues are suitable for the planned research and to ensure data quality

Aim 4: To provide research histology support for all SPORE research activities, including evaluation of histopathology of mouse models of colorectal neoplasia and correlation with human disease, construction of custom tissue microarrays, and consultative support for laser capture microdissection

Aim 5: To provide expertise in developing, performing and evaluating immunohistochemical studies

Aim 6: To develop, implement, optimize and validate quantitative surrogate biomarkers of colorectal cancer for use in imaging to support preclinical and translational research

6a. To provide non-invasive imaging metrics of colorectal cancer initiation, progression and treatment response to GI SPORE investigators

6b. To facilitate and foster collaborations between GI SPORE investigators and expert imaging scientists by developing cutting-edge imaging tools to address important problems in GI cancer research

6c. To provide support for imaging data analysis customized to project specific applications, including co-registration and integration of multiple imaging modalities, histology and imaging mass spectrometry

6d. To facilitate the development and translation of promising molecular imaging biomarkers to patients with colorectal cancer

Biostatistics Core

The purpose of the Biostatistics Core is to provide professional expertise in statistics for all Vanderbilt University Lung Cancer SPORE projects, investigators and participants. Functions provided by this core include development of experimental designs, data quality control, statistical analysis and interpretation of findings, and collaboration on presentation of results. To achieve these functions, the core director and core biostatisticians are constantly available to investigators, and are in regular contact with the project and core leaders.

The primary objectives of the Biostatistics Core are:

  1. To provide study design and review all laboratory, animal and clinical studies including feasibility assessment, power analysis and sample size estimation.
  2. To collaborate in projects data analysis, interpretation of results, and the writing of final study reports and manuscripts.
  3. To work with Clinical Resources Core and Pathology and Tissue Resource Core in the development of research project database, to maintain data quality control and to ensure timely data capture.
  4. To develop and evaluate statistical methods for experimental design and data analysis.

The Biostatistics Core support is required in all Lung Cancer SPORE studies. Core personnel have worked and will continue to work closely with project leaders for assuring that Core provides state-of-the-art statistical support.